Andrew Yang

New York's Failed Political Class Puzzles Over Why Voters Seem To Prefer Outsider Andrew Yang

When government doesn't deliver, voters look for unpolished candidates from outside government. Go figure.

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The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the public sector union that has helped keep my daughters out of classrooms for most of the 2020–21 school year, issued its long-awaited endorsement for New York mayor on Monday: NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer.

"Educational policy is crucial, but we need a mayor who understands how the city works," the UFT explained in a tweet. To which a beleaguered resident of Gotham might counter: Or maybe we need a mayor who understands that the city doesn't.

The New York Times' news pages described the endorsement as "a much-needed boost" to Stringer's campaign, which seems oddly inflationary given the UFT's desultory record in picking Democratic primary winners. Odder still is the open hostility that many in the media are directing toward the front-runner in this race, who also happens to be the only candidate bluntly criticizing the teachers union for its role in shuttering schools: former 2020 presidential aspirant Andrew Yang.

"Yang's prominence, The New Republic's Alex Pareene confessed last week, "depresses me." Why? Because it's embarrassing for a polity that takes nuts-and-bolts governance so seriously to swoon over a celebrity candidate.

"As mayor, Yang would have to figure out how to get lead paint and mold out of the city's public housing system, how to design safer streets, how to make the buses run more efficiently, how to collect garbage, how to assign children to public schools and operate them fairly, how to manage the paramilitary known as the NYPD, and what to do with the atrocity known as Rikers Island," Pareene wrote wearily. "And, for all the talk of his ideas, he has not shown that he has thought very much about any of those parts of the job."

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, too, decried Yang's lack of relevant experience.

"We've got, like, the most important mayor's race in New York City probably in the last 50 years, maybe 100 years, I don't know….[And] I mean, you and I could do a better job running New York City than Andrew Yang," the Morning Joe host told a nodding Donny Deutsch Monday. "You want that mayor to be competent, you want them to know what they're actually doing….It's one thing running for president and putting some quirky ideas out there and getting some media attention, but man, when you're running New York City, again, I'm talking competence."

I can think of other c-words when clanging along the city's busted streets, waiting for trains that never come because we're still wiping down surfaces to prevent COVID, or trying to sort through the latest turf squabble between the Democratic mayor and the Democratic governor over a pandemic that hit the five boroughs harder than anywhere else in the United States. Crime is up, population is down, school buildings are still half-closed, subways are increasingly gross (wipedowns notwithstanding), tourism is gutted, Midtown is deserted, and public-facing businesses remain subject to arbitrary restrictions. And you're talking competence?

Seeing the political class attempt to cope with what Slate this week called "the bewildering rise of Andrew Yang" is a storyline familiar enough that even politicians and journalists hear the echoes.

"We are creating a Donald Trump with Andrew Yang," warned fellow mayoral candidate Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, earlier this month. "That's what the media did with Donald Trump. The same thing you complain about—how did he get elected?—was because you covered Donald Trump as though he was doing celebrity show and not running for the presidency. The media is doing the same thing right now."

Candidate Maya Wiley, the former MSNBC analysts who is clumped with Adams and Stringer in the second tier of candidates behind Yang, is also playing the Trump card. "Our city deserves a serious leader," Wiley spokesperson Julia Savel said earlier this month, "not a mini-Trump who thinks our city is a fun play thing in between podcasts."

You'd think by now we'd have enough practice with outsider populists upending political expectations, but the message has not yet sunk in. A polity alienated, desperate, and/or bored enough with the status quo will flock to the unpolished celebrity not despite his inability to sound and act like the political establishment, but because of it. Every departure from the normal script reinforces the notion that at least he's not one of them, especially after his competitors and the press have chewed on it.

Such a phenomenon, especially after the Trump experience, should spur journalistic examination of the political-class failure that made such a candidacy attractive in the first place. After all, Stringer, Adams, and Wiley, like the two-term mayor they aim to succeed, are each creatures of the New York political establishment who understand how the city works. And yet voters don't seem to value that experience. Sounds like an interesting topic for exploration!

Instead, you have a series of comically exasperated headlines—"Andrew Yang leads new NYC mayoral poll — despite string of gaffes," "Andrew Yang leads the New York mayoral race despite missteps," "Yang stays atop New York mayoral field – through early stumbles and rookie mistakes"—mixed with pity-inducing attempts at gotcha journalism. How dare he pose for pictures with the Trump-supporting Naked Cowboy!

As with Trump, the sheer volume and tenor of the media attacks against Yang can serve to make him more sympathetic, or at least cause one to root for the commentators' continued disappointment.

"Fundamentally," the Brooklyn freelancer Alex Yablon wrote for NBC's website, "Yang champions the same business-class neoliberalism that has reigned since the 1975 fiscal crisis. This is frustrating given that New Yorkers actually have a chance to push our political, social and economic order into the 21st century."

Yang is a piñata for people who use phrases like "bro culture," hate Bitcoin because of climate change, and believe that testing is a tool to segregate schools. In other words, he definitely will not win the Brooklyn Twitter primary.

But he may well be the next mayor of New York. If he does, that would be a splendid opportunity for journalists to examine the gap between their tastes in political manners and voters' priorities in addressing problems. Judging by the last half-decade's trajectory in media self-conception, it will likely be a road not taken.

NEXT: Americans Can't Agree About How Often Mass Shootings Occur, Let Alone the Right Policy Response

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  1. Hasn’t got a chance against fortified elections.

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    3. Hasnt got a chance because the Browns, Blacks, and Jews hate Asians. So too so woke whites no matter how many tears they shed about hate crimes against Asians. So that rules out about 99.99%?of NYC voters.

      1. Fun fact: NYC is 14% Asian. They even have a neighborhood called Chinatown, where, as I understand it, many residents are, in fact, Chinese.

        Also, the real Jews vote Republican, at least for Mayor.

  2. At this point, anyone will do. Lurch, his corrupt wife, and her massive staff need to go.

    1. I like Yang.

      1. Of course you do. You like anyone who will stand up and boldly lie to people that they have all the answers – just give them more power.

      2. Because you’re a communist shit.

      3. Lol. Many idiots do.

  3. When government doesn’t deliver, voters look for unpolished candidates from outside government. Go figure.

    But yet, a return to normal is always the preferred outcome.

    1. ‘Wrong, but within normal parameters’ is always preferred to ‘hey, maybe we don’t do that shit that isn’t working any more’.

      1. LIbertarians are great defenders of the status quo, doncha know.

      2. The problem with the above comment is that shit never worked in the first place.

  4. “As mayor, Yang would have to figure out how to get lead paint and mold out of the city’s public housing system, how to design safer streets, how to make the buses run more efficiently, how to collect garbage, how to assign children to public schools and operate them fairly, how to manage the paramilitary known as the NYPD, and what to do with the atrocity known as Rikers Island,” Pareene wrote wearily. “And, for all the talk of his ideas, he has not shown that he has thought very much about any of those parts of the job.”

    It’s so tedious listening to these obviously one-side complaints masquerading as analysis. As if they’re rigorously evaluating every candidate’s social engineering credentials and discovering that Andrew Yang is uniquely unqualified.

    1. Uniquely unqualified at social engineering is one of my primary requirements if you’re going to receive my vote.

      1. Uniquely unqualified and able to recognize it in yourself would be the goal. Yang is unqualified, but thinks he’s the most intelligent person that anything he demands will solve all problems

        1. If you have to have a lefty shit, at least let it be an incompetent one

    2. That Important Issues list begs the obvious (to me) question: What has the last mayor been doing during his two terms?

      1. Banging underlings

        1. attempted banging. failure to launch.

      2. Killing seniors.

        1. And doing a damn good job of it!

        2. That’s the governor.

          1. Ooops, but has anyone ever seen them in the same room?

          2. Wait, you mean that there’s more to New York than New York City?

    3. “As mayor, Yang would have to figure out how to get lead paint and mold out of the city’s public housing system, how to design safer streets, how to make the buses run more efficiently, how to collect garbage, how to assign children to public schools and operate them fairly, how to manage the paramilitary known as the NYPD, and what to do with the atrocity known as Rikers Island,” Pareene wrote wearily. “And, for all the talk of his ideas, he has not shown that he has thought very much about any of those parts of the job.”

      Yep, all the issues just now popped up; none of the scumbags holding office until now ever had to do anything about them.
      Pareene should learn that insulting people is not a good way to get them to agree with you.

      1. Those all could have been solved at the federal level if it hadn’t been for orange man bad.

        1. Well, that’s just because Trump personally drove the dump trucks that put all the trash in the streets. That sounds terrible, but he did that mostly to distract from Ivanka and Jarrod driving the busses to deliver the GITMO prisoners to Rikers personally.

          It makes sense if you don’t think about it.

    4. Isn’t the whole point of bureaucracy building a system that has institutional memory, so the guy in charge of it doesn’t have to know how to do everything?

      (I mean, there are plenty of problems with bureaucracy, but surely the mayor of New York doesn’t need to know how to college garbage personally – there’s a whole department that handles that for him).

    5. “As mayor, Yang would have to figure out how to get lead paint and mold out of the city’s public housing system,”
      1: Abolish rent control;
      2: Sell the city’s public housing system.
      Once landlords could charge market rate for apartments developers would be encouraged to build new housing.
      Existing landlords, to compete, would have to renovate or demolish and rebuild, either of which gets rid of lead paint and mold. And they’d have the funds to do so.

      Covid is actually a very good time to get rid of the controls, given that so many people are leaving NYC rents are dropping.

      Social engineering is a bug, not a feature.

      1. And if there are no buyers? Most public housing is located in undesirable areas. Or they may buy it, and not actually remove the lead, which then leaves having the same problem, but under different management. Proper removal and disposal of lead paint is very expensive, and organized crime is known to specialize in getting it done on the cheap, and leaving the public with the consequences. I think if a private landlord were holding these properties, they wouldn’t have been solved either. It’s a negative externality being imposed on people who are too poor to provide a Coasian resolution.

  5. “We’ve got, like, the most important mayor’s race in New York City probably in the last 50 years, maybe 100 years, I don’t know….

    Zzz…

    1. I thought Joe Scarborough left the Republican party.

  6. Yang is much less septic that NYC sewer rat pols like Trump and De Blasio. Simply not swimming in that sewer for decades leaves Yang smelling much better.

    1. “Yang is much less septic that NYC sewer rat pols like Trump…”

      Your head is asking for some company, TDS-addled shit; stick your TDS up your ass.

    2. Damn that Trump! Getting that Wollman Rink skating rink up and running in four months and under budget! THE NERVE!

    3. Don’t come to my state fag.

  7. Matt Welch being racist film at 11. You are not entitled to anyone’s labor.

    1. Is that about teachers being forced back to work? If so I agree as long as they agree I shouldn’t be forced to pay them through my labor.

      1. You should be forced to (continue to) pay for them to not work.

    2. Shush, baizuo.

    3. ohlookMarketthugs making a public ass of himself again – 3:39PM.

      1. You would know about being a public ass, sevo.

        Funny how people around here like to use force and threats against normal working folks.

        Oh, for those with limited memory, Matt welch doesn’t want minorities in his kids schools

        1. Neither do white liberals, which is why they put them in private or charter schools, or move out to the suburbs where the “good schools” are.

    4. Actually, you are entitled one’s labor when you’re paying for it. You need to think harder.

  8. Given what type of politician the media usually falls in love with, 8t is cute that they claim “competence” is the overriding criteria.

  9. After deblasio and cuomo who wouldn’t want a non new yorker.

  10. As mayor, Yang would have to figure out how to get lead paint and mold out of the city’s public housing system, how to design safer streets, how to make the buses run more efficiently, how to collect garbage, how to assign children to public schools and operate them fairly, how to manage the paramilitary known as the NYPD

    Why? No previous mayor has.

    1. But this is “the most important mayor’s race in New York City probably in the last 50 years, maybe 100 years.” This is the race where we solve ALL those problems.

    2. I was thinking have not the very same things been the “front and center” problem of that metropolis for the past 60 or so years?

      Damn these people are stupid.

  11. NYC?
    Local news.
    Nobody cares, Matt.

    1. Considering they subsidize people like you, maybe you should.

      1. This from a lefty parasite…

        1. Experts agree: “Red States are mooches.

          That this has much to do with the result of progressive policies on taxation, medical benefits, and old age pensions is likely beyond this one’s ken.

  12. Joe Scarborough should never be quoted. Let everyone forget he exists.

    1. And de Blasio is about the same:

      https://abc7ny.com/bill-de-blasio-mayor-approval-new-york-city/25045/

      NY gets, and deserves, exactly the government it will continue to vote for.

    2. In the latest backroom, Cuomo is up some non-consenting woman’s dress.

  13. Yang is a communist tool and the fact that he has any standing whatsoever just goes to show that most New Yorkers are, likewise, communist tools.

    Communists belong in the ground. End of story.

    1. That’s why I admire Stalin and Mao. No one has a better record on killing commies than other commies.

  14. #YANGGANG2021

    1. NYC deserves a good hard Yangbang.

  15. Yang is a moron. DeBlabbermouth is a corrupt, Jew-hating scumbag. Who can do more damage to the city?

    -jcr

  16. Candidate Maya Wiley, the former MSNBC analysts

    You misspelled “lefturd propagandist”.

    -jcr

  17. “…we need a mayor who understands how the city works…”

    You scratch my back….

  18. We’ve got, like, the most important mayor’s race in New York City probably in the last 50 years, maybe 100 years

    Take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

    1. Rod From God. Less fallout. Get DC while we’re at it.

  19. Why do all Reason editors and writers seem to live in NYC, DC or some other wokedom place? I don’t care about Yang or NYC mayor…don’t care…as someone who grew up in Central NY I lived the social and economic destruction by NYC bolsheviks…Matt we don’t care….move to America like Nashville, Cincinnati, Charleston, Ocala, Prescott…cosmo wokes are not libertarians….NYC is just one big red diaper with a pile of brown in the middle

    1. NYC hipsters have taken over Nashville and Charleston (SC), so you can cross those off

    2. Because as much as they claim to love liberty, what they really worship is cool. They can’t be cool from Park City or Fayetteville.

  20. “…”That’s what the media did with Donald Trump. The same thing you complain about—how did he get elected?—was because you covered Donald Trump as though he was doing celebrity show and not running for the presidency. The media is doing the same thing right now.”…”

    As much a TDS-addled asshole as WK, and as stupid.

  21. Kids and knife fights..just part of growing up..no one should be killed by a cop before they are about to stab someone else..come on man

    Corn Pop

    1. Lebron James agrees.

    2. Doesn’t even qualify as a “knife fight” given that only one party had a knife. More like “knife assault.”

  22. The sad fact is that those connected with the NYC politics are regarded as so pervasively corrupt, that anyone coming from outside looks rosy, even if he isn’t all that great.

  23. “As mayor, Yang would have to figure out how to get lead paint and mold out of the city’s public housing system, how to design safer streets, how to make the buses run more efficiently, how to collect garbage, how to assign children to public schools and operate them fairly, how to manage the paramilitary known as the NYPD, and what to do with the atrocity known as Rikers Island”

    None of the conventional candidates for mayor are going to fix any of that shit, either. But they will make sure the usual suspects get to wet their beaks. The scary thing about an outsider isn’t a lack of competence, it’s that they might break too many rice bowls.

  24. Yang is an outsider, he will suffer the same fate as Trump if he even gets near the nomination. NeverYangers!

  25. It would be hard to find a mayor more incompetent than De Blasio. The Commiecrats have moved so far from reality that most of them are to the left of Yang.

  26. Messrs. Pareene, Scarborough, et. al.;

    If you didn’t personally try to assassinate Bill De Blasio, you have no business pretending you want competence in NYC mayors, you lying pieces of shit.

  27. Considering just how screwed up New York City is right now, anyone between Adolf Hitler and Chairman Mao on the political spectrum would probably get a good hard look from the electorate. Ask yourself, how much worse could an outsider make it? Can the subways get dirtier? Can a closed school be more closed? Can an empty storefront get emptier? They complain about Yang being the next Trump but they should be so lucky. With Trump, unemployment was at record lows, personal incomes were at record highs and businesses were roaring. We should have more of such disastrous policies. Maybe Rudy can change his name and run again. He’d fix it.

  28. Michael Bloomberg was in the office for twelve years and people are surprised NY’ers might elect a political outsider as Mayor?

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